Oil Pump Failure: Is Your Engine at Risk? Discover the Signs and Solutions

The oil pump is the heart of a car engine lubricating system. Car engines use a completely force-feed lubrication system with the help of the oil pump. It pumps oil through all the moving parts of the engine that requires lubrication while it is running. This prevents friction and reduces heat from the engine components. So what happens when an oil pump fails?

Severe engine damage occurs when an oil pump fails, and you don’t replace it promptly. This situation is dangerous and expensive. To avoid this, you should Identify the common signs of a bad oil pump. Below, we will highlight these symptoms, the causes of oil pump failure, and other questions about your oil pump.

Understanding the Oil Pump

An oil pump is a mechanical device responsible for circulating oil throughout the engine. It ensures that all moving parts are properly lubricated, reducing friction and heat buildup. The oil pump consists of various components, including the rotor assembly, relief valve, pick-up tube, pressure relief valve, and oil filter. The rotor assembly draws oil from the oil pan and pressurizes it for distribution to the engine’s vital components.

Common Symptoms Of Oil Pump Failure

A car dashboard displayThe oil pump is a sturdy car part. So, you might wonder, “What happens if my oil pump fails?” If you notice any of the following symptoms, check your vehicle right away to avoid catastrophic engine damage.

1. Low oil pressure

The oil pump regulates the oil pressure. When the oil pump is getting worn out, the oil pressure becomes low. The warning light on the dashboard and the low oil pressure gauge turn on. You can check your oil level with the dipstick; if it is low, add more oil. If the oil pressure warning light is still on after, the pump is faulty, and you should replace it right away.

2. High engine temperature

what happens when the oil pump fails is that there will be inadequate lubrication and friction as the parts move. This generates heat while the engine is running and sets off the warning light of the temperature gauge on the dashboard.

3. Noisy from the valve train

The valve train opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves to allow air and fuel mix to enter and leave the combustion chamber. The valve train requires lubrication before it can function well. What happens when the oil pump fails is that the valve train will not get adequate lubrication and will start to make noise.

4. Noise from the hydraulic valve lifters

The hydraulic lifters allow the valve train to work with zero clearance. This reduces the wear and tear of the engine and enables it to operate more quietly. The hydraulic lifter requires sufficient oil pressure for lubrication so that it can function properly and quietly. Noise from the hydraulic lifters is what happens when your oil pump fails.

5. Noise from the oil pump

As its internal gear mechanism wears and starts to fail, the oil pump begins to make a noise. You will hear a loud whining sound while the car is idling.

Why Would An Oil Pump Fail?

The following situations can cause the oil pump to malfunction:

1. Low level of engine oil

The level of engine oil should be sufficient to circulate through the engine parts properly. Insufficient lubrication and more friction will occur if the engine frequently runs at a low oil level. This leads to the warping of the pump components and other mechanical problems. Eventually, the pump will fail.

2. Wear and tear

Like almost all mechanical devices, oil pumps gradually lose optimal performance due to unavoidable wear and tear. Even if the pump does not fail entirely, it will be due for replacement with constant use over time.

3. Infrequent oil changes

As the engine flows through the moving engine components, sludge, and other particles accumulate in the oil. Consequently, the oil loses the ability to lubricate effectively. The particles cause the engine and oil pump to wear out faster. Hence, frequent oil and oil filter changes are a  necessity.

4. Wrong engine Oil

Using oil with the wrong viscosity can damage the oil pump. So, go with the oil recommendations of the car manufacturer

5. Open relief valves

The relief valve regulates the oil pressure in the vehicle engine. Open valves can make the oil pressure low, and the valves can open due to the particles in the oil. How can you prevent relief valve failure?  Regular oil changes and a functional oil filter can work effectively.

6. Oil contamination

Particles may get into the oil as it flows through the engine, or fuel might get into the oil due to a fault in the engine. Regardless of the cause, the oil pump will start to have problems when there is oil contamination.

7. Engine sludge

Sludge(a combination of dirt, old engine oil, and old engine oil) restricts normal oil flow and causes friction and heat. As a result, the oil pump starts to malfunction.

Consequences of Oil Pump Failure

Auto mechanic

When an oil pump fails, the consequences can be severe and potentially result in extensive engine damage. Without proper lubrication, critical engine components such as bearings, cylinders, and pistons are at risk. Bearing failure can occur when the metal surfaces rub against each other due to insufficient oil, leading to increased friction and accelerated wear. Cylinder scoring, caused by inadequate lubrication, results in scratches and grooves on the cylinder walls, affecting compression and power. Piston damage may occur when the lack of oil causes the piston to seize or become misaligned, leading to catastrophic engine failure.

Additionally, failing oil pumps provide additional engine friction and heat. If the moving parts aren’t well-lubricated, they’ll generate too much heat and may deform, distort, or melt the surrounding material. The engine’s efficiency and longevity are both diminished as a result of the excess heat it generates.

Diagnosis and Repair of Oil Pump Failure

engine oil changeOil pressure tests are used with specialized equipment to diagnose oil pump failure. The pressure produced by the pump is measured during these tests, and it is compared to the manufacturer’s recommendations. A probable oil pump problem is indicated if the pressure drops below the required levels. To find mechanical issues or indications of contamination, a comprehensive check of the pump and its parts may also be required.

The rotor assembly, relief valve, or pick-up tube must frequently be replaced in order to fix an oil pump that has failed. It’s crucial to flush and clean the engine to get rid of any pollutants that might have contributed to the pump failing. For the oil pump to remain healthy and to provide the necessary lubrication, routine oil and filter replacements are essential.

Preventing Oil Pump Failure

Taking proactive measures to prevent oil pump failure is key to preserving the longevity and performance of your engine. Regular maintenance, including scheduled oil changes and filter replacements, is crucial. Using high-quality oil and filters suited to your vehicle’s specifications helps maintain optimal lubrication. It is important to maintain proper oil levels and monitor oil pressure regularly, especially during long trips or in extreme weather conditions. Avoiding engine overheating by ensuring proper cooling system function and avoiding prolonged idling or intense driving can also prevent oil pump failure.


What happens when an oil pump fails is that there is severe damage to the car engine. To prevent this, check oil levels in the engine, change the oil, and replace the oil filters when due. Also, follow oil viscosity and service schedule recommendations on the car manual and routine vehicle maintenance.

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